Tenby is a popular tourist ‘honeypot’ in Pembrokeshire

Fiona Barltrop re-walks a favourite stretch of the Wales Coast Path in south Pembrokeshire

BY ALL ACCOUNTS, TENBY is best avoided in the summer months (“you can’t move for people” warn the locals), but at other times of the year this attractive coastal resort with its splendid beaches, medieval town walls and colourful pastel-hued houses overlooking the harbour is well worth a wander around

Picturesque harbour town

A short train ride had brought me here from Lamphey in order to re-walk a favourite stretch of the Coast Path. But though I was keen to get going on this fine sunny day and had visited Tenby several times before, its charm and photogenic appeal couldn’t be resisted.

A climb to the top of Castle Hill – crowned by the castle remains and a suitably imposing looking statue of Prince Albert – was rewarded with views stretching as far as Worm’s Head at the tip of the Gower peninsula to the south-east, and, closer at hand, Giltar Point to the south-west with monastic Caldey Island just offshore.

A short train ride had brought me here from Lamphey in order to re-walk a favourite stretch of the Coast Path. But though I was keen to get going on this fine sunny day and had visited Tenby several times before, its charm and photogenic appeal couldn’t be resisted.

Tenby’s twin beaches

With the tide out, the two great beaches flanking Castle Hill to north and south were all the more of an impressive sight today. If the red and white lifeboat station you can see on the north side looks familiar it’s because it featured in Grand Designs. It’s now a privately owned dwelling, with its modern replacement nearby.

The small tidal island close to Castle Hill is St Catherine’s, topped by a 19th century fort – there’s no public access though you can walk across the sand (Castle Beach) to the islet at low tide. When the tide is in you can’t continue on the sand from Castle Beach to South Beach, but that wasn’t a problem today, and I was soon striding along the latter towards Giltar Point, the closest point of the mainland to Caldey, with St Margaret’s at its tip (and here’s a tip: a boat trip from Tenby to Caldey – a lovely little island to visit, but, as above, avoid peak season).

Penally to Lydstep Haven

Penally firing range, near to Giltar Point, is one of a few MoD firing ranges along the Pembrokeshire coast; at times the coast path beyond Giltar Point is closed, but there were no red flags flying today so I was able to continue westwards along the grassy limestone cliff-tops. There’s many a worse blot on the landscape than the large caravan park overlooking Lydstep Haven, but with the tide still out I was able to take to the beach once again, enjoying the views back to the cliffs just walked.

Sea arch at Skrinkle Haven, Pembrokeshire

Sea arch at Skrinkle Haven, Pembrokeshire

Lydstep Point is worth a detour for yet more fine views and thereafter there’s some especially striking cliff scenery as you approach Skrinkle Haven. Beyond here carboniferous limestone gives way to old red sandstone, as is obvious from the other side of Old Castle Head (the headland occupied by another MoD range).

Manorbier Castle

Manorbier, ‘the pleasantest spot in Wales’, according to the 12th century scholar, Gerald of Wales, who was born here, is most pleasant indeed, with its lovely bay and unspoilt cliff scenery and, as a backdrop, an impressive well-preserved Norman castle. The final delightful stretch of coast path for the day took me past beautiful Swanlake Bay and along the top of West Moor Cliff towards the large bay at Freshwater East where I turned inland back to Lamphey. (The impressive remains of the Bishop’s Palace here shouldn’t be missed – but I’d had a good look round last time.)

Superb coastal scenery and sunshine all day: you couldn’t ask for more.

Fiona Barltrop

Fiona Barltrop

This article first appeared in The Great Outdoors (TGO) magazine in May 2017, and is re-published here with the author’s permission. Copyright © Fiona Barltrop 2017. All rights reserved.
Fiona Barltrop is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, with a particular love for coastal walking. She has been a regular contributor to UK walking magazines, including The Great Outdoors and Country Walking, for many years. She is also a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and available for commissions.
Contact: fiona2barltrop@gmail.com